Virus Shook the Streaming Star: Estimating the COVID-19 Impact on Music Consumption
Marketing Science, Forthcoming
74 Pages Posted: 5 Aug 2020 Last revised: 28 Aug 2021
Date Written: July 11, 2020
Many have speculated that the recent outbreak of COVID-19 has led to a surge in the use of online streaming services. However, this assumption has not been closely examined for music streaming services, the consumption patterns of which can be different from video streaming services. To provide insights into this question, we analyze Spotify’s streaming data for weekly top 200 songs for two years in 60 countries between June 2018 and May 2020, along with varying lockdown policies and detailed daily mobility information from Google. Empirical evidence shows that the COVID-19 outbreak significantly reduced music streaming consumption in many countries. We also find that countries with larger mobility decreases saw more notable downturns in streaming during the pandemic. Further, we reveal that the mobility effect was attributable to the complementarity of music consumption to other activities and likely to be transient rather than irreversible. Alternative mechanisms, such as unobservable Spotify-specific factors, a demand shift from top-selling songs to niche music, and supply-side effects, did not explain the decline in music consumption.
Keywords: digital distribution, lockdown restrictions, music streaming, pandemic, Spotify
JEL Classification: L82, L86, M31, O38
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